What makes a good dance teacher? Dance studios are filled with instructors. While many people have the skills and aptitude for teaching, here are five qualities of a good dance teacher that set some apart and make them extraordinary instructors.
It’s one thing to like dance, but it’s another thing to live dance. The same can be said of teaching. When someone really loves what he or she does, it makes the difference in how they go about their job. Instructors who can inspire students are those who are also learning all the time. They watch, listen, and try new things. These instructors have a solid grasp on the art of dance and help instill the same in their students. When the instructor is passionate, he or she knows how to mix important learning with fun, and excitement for the craft. This passion helps drive dancers to be their best and move forward in a balanced way.
Patience is a virtue, and perhaps the key skill great dance teachers must possess. Teaching can sometimes be overwhelming. No matter what the age level, students typically have a varying degree of skill. Because every person learns differently, there will always be a mix of dancers who move ahead quickly, and others who lag behind.
At times, the practice can become taxing. Extraordinary teachers won’t lose motivation and will take the time to adjust to the demands of individual dancers. They also pay attention to the mental and physical well being of students and make sure lessons are age-appropriate.
Being patient during times of multi-tasking and challenges that pop up keeps everyone in the class focused, and leads to success.
Great instructors not only look the part, but act the part as well. When a teacher is professional, he or she dresses appropriately, shows up on time, and has a positive attitude.
Being properly organized and always prepared for classes are also qualities of a good dance teacher. This doesn’t just mean having the music and lessons ready. Classes always have one student who is always late, or the student that won’t pay attention. Being prepared for these and other challenges that arise is being professional.
In addition to having good management skills, great instructors have excellent communication skills. They talk to students in ways the students can understand. They are honest, offer feedback, support, and motivation.
A great instructor will be respectful at all times and understand that coming into the studio to teach is more than “just a job.” Dancers need someone to be understanding and flexible. They need a role model in the industry to care about them as individuals, as well as their progression as a dancer. Additionally, instructors who teach younger clients will communicate well not only with the children, but with their parents. Sometimes parental demands can become difficult to navigate. Being professional helps in handling challenging situations.
There are a number of great dancers who decide to become instructors. Often studios will hire instructors who have natural talent. But when it comes to what makes a good dance teacher, not every great dancer is automatically a great instructor. While it is not always necessary to hire teachers with certifications, great teachers will go the extra mile in their education. Great instructors are life-long learners who look to improve their own skills. In addition to college programs, dance education can be honed at schools such as Dance Educators of America or Dance Masters of America. Having more advanced credentials in dance helps the instructor be more confident, as well. This increases the quality of instruction.
Great instructors reflect well on the studio, and can be the reason parents and students refer others. Having a good reputation entails many qualities. Certainly the above mentioned talent, education, patience and professionalism play a part. In time, instructors will develop a good reputation if they understand the role dance education plays in a student’s life. They see that classes are something that help the student—whether child or adult—grow and find enjoyment that may last far beyond the class or the studio. Dance may not be a passion for every student, but may impact students in very positive ways.
A great instructor knows how to delicately tread the line of being kind and understanding as well as being strict and demanding as necessary. They develop a very respectable reputation for learning how to walk that line.
Being part of a good dance community and garnering achievements are also a huge impact on one’s reputation. Likewise, the word of an injury or other mishap with a student without being insured can spread like wildfire, ruining a reputation for years. The risk isn’t worth it when comprehensive, inexpensive dance instructor insurance is readily available.
If you are a new teacher, also check out our Guide to Success as a New Professional Dance Teacher.
Photo by Rebecca Siegel under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License